Conquerors and Culture

Conquerors and Culture

Throughout the world’s history, conquerors have amassed land and built empires. Their influences often live on long past the death of the conqueror and sometimes transform the course of history.


3 - 12


Social Studies, World History


Genghis Khan Painting

The Mongol Empire was begun by Genghis Khan. This painting shows the conqueror in combat.

Photograph by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images
The Mongol Empire was begun by Genghis Khan. This painting shows the conqueror in combat.
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Conquerors are powerful leaders. They form armies. Then, they take over land through violence and create large kingdoms called empires. Conquerors and their empires have changed the history of the world.


Alexander was born more than 2,300 years ago. He is also called Alexander the Great. His father was King Philip II of Macedonia. The ancient kingdom Macedonia was in northern Greece in Europe.

Alexander became king at age 20. Alexander was good at fighting wars and building relationships. By the time he died, he had a huge empire. He died at age 32. His kingdom was the largest empire in the ancient world. The empire was almost half the size of the United States.

Alexander hired scientists to travel with the army. They studied his new lands. He also told his people to live and marry the people they conquered. He built great cities, usually called Alexandria.

His empire spread Greek language and practices. This time period is called the Hellenistic Age or Hellenistic Period. It began after Alexander's death in 323 B.C.E. It ended about 2,000 years ago.

The Norman Conquest

In 1066, about 1,000 years ago, King Edward of England in Europe died. He did not have any children to take his place. His brother-in-law, Harold, took the throne. William, the duke of Normandy in France, believed he should be king. He gathered an army and attacked England. Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings. William was crowned the new king. The event was called the Norman Conquest.

William kept careful records of the land. He used his records to charge his subjects' taxes. William also took land from the English. He then gave the land to his Norman followers. Finally, William formed the Great Council. They were a group of nobles and church leaders who helped him make decisions. The Great Council would become what is now called the British Parliament.

The Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire was the largest connected empire in world history. The kingdom was its largest about 700 years ago. The empire was more than twice the size of the United States.

The Mongols caused war. However, the Mongol Empire also created peace. They controlled the Silk Road, a system of trade routes. The Silk Road stretched across Asia and into Europe. Knowledge and goods traveled freely across the routes.

Unfortunately, the Mongols also probably carried the plague. The illness traveled from Asia to Europe. In Europe, the illness killed upwards of 25 million people.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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